Today, I have the honor of taking part of the blog tour for Operation Lionhearted by Maribeth Barber! If you missed it, I actually reviewed this book just a bit ago. I’m not much of a sci-fi person, but this book has changed my mind on that!
Lindy Tremaine is proud of her work with the Meridian Intelligence Department. Clever, courageous, and armed with an uncanny intuition, she is determined to protect the planets of the Kellan Star System from villains and schemers, even if it means going undercover as a fashion journalist.
Tragedy, however, lies beneath Lindy’s self-possessed demeanor. She is an empath, a native of the war-torn Valya, and the man responsible for her mother’s death—the former prince Rael Navorre—still rules her home planet with an iron hand. Haunted by fragmented memories of bloodshed, Lindy refuses to revisit Valya or embrace her heritage, preferring to invest in her career and her adopted family.
But now Lindy and her best friend, Jo Camrin, have received the most daunting assignment of their MID careers: they must protect Valya’s exiled royal family during peace negotiations with Rael. Committed to this mission despite her fears, Lindy soon uncovers a web of lies and technological horrors…as well as the best-kept secret in the Star System.
Buy it here!
Operation Lionhearted is available for preorder at $2.99, but snag your copy now, because it’ll go up to $5.99 on October 14!
Interview with Maribeth
VH: Hi, Maribeth, and welcome to the blog! I’m so excited to have you join me today. A big congratulations on the release of Operation Lionhearted – it’s such a great book!
MB: Thank you so much for having me on, Vanessa! I’m really thrilled that you’ve enjoyed my novel so much!
VH: Tell me a little bit about your writing journey. When did you first start writing?
MB: I started writing when I was 5 years old. My parents had enriched my childhood with books and I already knew by that point my dad had a knack for writing, so storytelling was something I was drawn to very early on. My first story was written in a Disney World hotel room (I was supposed to be taking a nap, haha), and I’ve wanted to be a novelist ever since.
VH: What’s the hardest part about writing for you?
MB: Wresting control from my Inner Critic. I’m a perfectionist, and the problems associated with that have definitely worsened over the past 3-4 years while I’ve edited and prepped Operation Lionhearted. Speaking positive affirmations to myself and praying for strength and confidence have become very important as I move forward.
VH: What are your favorite genres to write in?
MB: Speculative fiction is my happy place. It’s a broad term that encompasses science fiction, all the various types of fantasy (low, high, heroic, mythopoeia, etc.), alternate history, and so on. I love the worldbuilding and epic stakes that typically accompany these genres, though I’m most comfortable in what they call “soft sci-fi” and “high fantasy.”
VH: What’s one of your best pieces of advice for an aspiring author?
MB: Read lots of books—and just as importantly, watch lots of movies. You never know what might trigger your imagination!
VH: At what point did you realize you wanted to publish? How did you decide to go with indie or traditional publishing methods?
MB: While I have several “trunked” novels on my hard drive, Operation Lionhearted was the first one I’ve ever considered publication-worthy, mainly because 1) it’s a pretty straightforward, standalone story, and 2) I actually finished it!
Once I had a polished manuscript (AKA the sixth draft), I committed to a full year of querying agents. Twelve months and many more rejections later, I went with the option that had always been more appealing to me anyway: self-publishing. It allows me so much more freedom, especially with a genre that Christian publishers often avoid and a story that’s probably “too clean” for traditional publishers.
VH: I love that Operation Lionhearted is a sci-fi/adventure novel, because it seems like a pretty rare genre in Christian fiction. What made you choose to go that direction? What were the main influences behind this story?
MB: It is rare. Christian fiction is often limited to historical romance, and many readers do love that—but I strongly believe Christians can tell effective science fiction, as well. This is a genre I’ve loved for years, thanks to thought-provoking novels like Lois Lowry’s The Giver and shows like Star Trek, the latter of which heavily influenced Operation Lionhearted. As is typical of science fiction, both of those stories deal with many of the philosophical and ethical dilemmas of the modern world. That alone offers Christian storytellers a fantastic opportunity to artfully present truth, goodness, and beauty in a futuristic setting! We just have to be willing to defy the stereotypes and expectations of Christian fiction, as well as the humanistic, utopian influences of traditional sci-fi.
VH: How much did Operation Lionhearted change over the course of edits? Did you have major overhauls in the middle of edits?
MB: The first draft clocked in at a whopping 150,000 words, so I spent a lot of time ruthlessly cutting out clutter and rewriting scenes so they’d flow better. I didn’t have any major overhauls to the plot itself, but this past summer I did add one completely new scene towards the end of the book. My beta readers insisted Lindy needed just a little more emotional closure as the story came to a close, and they were 100% right.
VH: Tell me a little bit about your MCs. Who’s your favorite, and who do you connect with the most?
MB: Lindy Tremaine, an intelligence operative and the adopted granddaughter of a somewhat controversial politician, is my protagonist. I connect with her the most: we share a lot of the same personality quirks and flaws, but she also possesses a courage and a willingness to stand up for herself and others that I admire and aspire to. That said, my favorite character in the whole book is Lindy’s best friend and fellow agent, Jo Camrin. She’s funny, wise, and a faithful friend.
VH: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Lindy starts out as someone who buries herself in her work to hide from her fears and inner pain. In many ways, I was doing the same thing while writing the first draft—albeit on a much smaller, less dramatic scale! But I hope my readers are encouraged (maybe even emboldened) by Lindy’s honest wrestling with her past and identity. Growing in courage and maturity is never easy, but the confidence that comes with embracing your true identity and your purpose is well worth the struggle.
VH: What do your upcoming projects look like?
MB: I’ve developed several different story ideas over the years, nearly all of them drawing on ancient myths and legends. Now that Operation Lionhearted is done and dusted, I’ve finally chosen one as my next novel! I’m still at the point where I’m keeping the details under wraps, but I can say that it’s very magical and epic, and I love my main characters.
VH: Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Maribeth, and congrats again!
Enter to win a paperback copy of Operation Lionhearted! The giveaway runs from Monday, October 4 to 11:59 PM on Tuesday, October 12, and Maribeth will announce the winner on her blog on October 13. Due to the unpredictability and high cost of international shipping right now, the giveaway is limited to U.S. entrants only.
About the Author
Maribeth Barber is a small-town Southerner captivated by the tales of underdogs, homebodies, and royalty. She reviews movies, books, and television at maribethbarber.com, and is also a contributing writer for The Cultivating Project. A novelist from childhood, she lives with her family on their hobby farm in Louisiana.